Easy Mongolian beef for the slow cooker

The green onions add the perfect bit of crunch to this "hot pot."
The green onions add the perfect bit of crunch to this “hot pot.”

Stoic the Vast refills bird feeders daily in this frigid weather. Jays, cardinals, finches, nuthatches, chickadees, flickers, even crows, panic as soon as a few flakes blanket the fields. “Oh, my God, we’ll starve!” you can hear in their incessant, greedy cheeps.

We humans are behaving the same — spending an inordinate amount of time in the kitchen, opening cupboard doors in the certitude that the temperature outside justifies eating like big, piggy birds. I never care about red meat in warm weather, but with the temperature hitting ground zero last night, I’m like a grizzly in the middle of a reindeer migration.

So when this quick Mongolian Beef recipe showed up on Facebook, I jotted it down, cut out two-thirds of the sugar (brightens the taste and makes it healthier), added fresh mushrooms and fixed it fast. Stoic was in charge of rice and oranges.

It has nothing to do with what people actually eat in Mongolia, rather it’s a popular Chinese restaurant dish. The interesting thing I learned about Mongolian cuisine this morning is that vodka is the most popular drink in the country with Chinygis vodka (named for you-know-who), the favorite brand.

Mongolian beef

1-1/2 pounds flank steak (I used Denver)

1/4 cup cornstarch

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic or more to taste

3/4 cup soy sauce

3/4 cup water

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1 cup grated carrots

8 ounces sliced portobello mushrooms

Green onions

Slice flank steak so you can read through the pieces. Toss those slices with cornstarch. Mix oil, garlic, soy, water, sugar,carrots and mushrooms; add to beef in slow cooker. Cook 2 to 3 hours on high; 4 to 5 on low. (Mine was done in 2 on high because, really, that setting on our slow cooker means ‘inferno.’) Serve on rice or cellophane noodles, garnished with scallions. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

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